January 17, 2018 | by Robbie Sherman MD
Before you get to your doctor’s office, plan ahead. Here are some tips that may help you organize your needs and get the most out of your visit.
- Make a list of the topics you want to cover. Having your list ready to go makes it much easier for the doctor to work with you to make a plan to meet all your needs. If you forget something and try to add it on at the end of the visit, you are not likely to have the thorough discussion needed to take care of the problem. Be sure to let the person who schedules your visit know if the list includes more than one big issue or if you have forms to complete.
- Identify your priority items. These are the concerns you and your doctor will focus on first. If there is time, your doctor can work with you on the lower priority issues or make a plan to take care of them. Put the most important item first on the list, even if it is embarrassing. We really want to help, especially with sensitive issues.
- If you have a specific worry, say so! Often patients are worried they have a specific diagnosis or have an idea about what might be going on. Sometimes these concerns help us make a diagnosis and sometimes we know right away they are not the problem. We can’t help you with the worry if we don’t know what it is. For example, I’ve seen a number of patients with headaches who are concerned they have a brain tumor. If I know that you’re worried about it, I can reassure you and explain why.
- Let us know if you have a specific request. Sometimes patients just really want a specific treatment or test. While I can’t say that we’ll always say yes, it’s very helpful to know what it is you want and why. Then we can figure out how best to help you.
- Know your medications. If you take medications, be sure you know the name of the medication, dose, and how often you take it. If you take more than one or two, bring a list that includes all this information. Checking your medication record together is important to correct any mistakes and help you manage your medications. Tip: use a medication record to log your prescriptions.
- Let us know what’s happening in your life. If you have had a major life event, please let us know. Deaths in the family, marriages, kids going off to college or ill elderly parents all affect your health and well-being. Knowing about them helps us provide the best care.